He Was Afraid to Die

All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away (1 Peter 1:24 NKJV)

Continuing our series on pain and suffering, in this post I want to talk about the fear of dying. Because the fear of dying is another cause of a crushed spirit and suffering.

Asleep At the Wheel And The Consequences

Today I read about a sixteen year old who was driving the family SUV during a trip to Disney World. He fell asleep. He veered off the road to the left into the median. Then he overcorrected to the right and rolled the vehicle. Tragically his mother and father, Michael and Trudi Hardman and three children ages 4, 7, and 15 all died in the crash. This just happened two days ago.

A Most Dangerous Thing You Do Every Day

It’s undeniable that driving is one of the most dangerous activities you engage in. According to the infographic below your risk of dying from driving a car is greater than it is for sky diving or bungee jumping, but we all drive. And we all die.

He Was Terrified

You are going to die. Of course you know that. You know it doesn’t matter how rich, or poor, or famous, or obscure, or strong, or weak anyone might be. It doesn’t matter. We all die. All of us. But it’s something most people push to the back of their consciousness. But you can’t keep it pushed back like that forever. I have a friend named Ben who I once tried to engage in conversation about Jesus, and he became angry and irritated, so I let it go. Fifteen or so years later he became seriously ill. He was dying. A mutual friend saw him as he lay there in the hospital bed. He told me Ben’s eyes were wide with terror. He said Ben was open about it, he was open about being terrified of dying. He talked about the panic welling up inside.

And then he died.

The truth is if you’re one of those people who push the knowledge that life is fragile to the back of your mind, at some time or another, the truth about your dying is going to push it’s way to the front. And if you’re relationship with God isn’t what it should be, like my friend Ben, you’ll find yourself terrified.

Fear Of Dying Can Cause A Crushed Spirit, But There’s A Solution

Fear of dying is another cause of a crushed spirit. Fear of dying is another cause of suffering. But there’s a way to find peace.

To find peace, get right with God. You know your own sin. You know like everyone else you can’t measure up to God’s perfect standards. So if you haven’t already, accept Jesus Christ and what he did to redeem you. He’s your only hope. He’s the only one who can save you. He beat death, so you don’t have to fear it. Give yourself to him. Give yourself to Jesus, and he’ll give you peace.

I wish Ben would have been open to hearing those words. He wasn’t receptive, but you can be.

If you have questions, please email me at kurt@kurtbennettbooks.com.

Your Chances of Dying

If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to email me at kurt@kurtbennettbooks.com.

References and Resources:

Tim Keller has an excellent teaching on what the Bible says about the causes of a crushed spirit. You can listen to it here: The Wounded Spirit (HT to my friend Ryan Sample, pastor of Lakeside Family Church, for recommending this teaching.)

Skip Heitzig, Christians in the Crucible of Pain, Connection Communications, 2012

Jim Davis, Why Me? (And Why That’s the Wrong Question), Leafwood, 2014

Steve Mays, Overwhelmed by God, Regal Books, 2014

Jennifer Hensley, Fatal Car Crash Story, KNOE News

Infographic via Best Healthcare Degrees

Brothers in Christ

Christian brothers

Late last night Kathy and I pulled into the driveway after a two week business trip in Florida and I’m very excited to tell you about the best part of that trip.

I remember a few years ago when internet friends were maligned by so many: “You don’t really know them,” they said. “They’re not really your friend,” they warned. While my sons were growing up I probably made the same or similar statements to them. I’m not saying that’s never the case–all you have to do is watch an episode of Catfish to know there are imposters out there. But the last two weekends I had the most amazing time meeting up with Mark and Mike from Solomon’s Porch Radio, and Adam Parish.

Two weeks ago I had never even spoken with any of them on the phone. But before we left for Florida I arranged to go to church with Mark and Mike. So on Sunday, November 9, Kathy and I had the privilege of worshipping in Clermont, Florida with Mark, Mike, and their families. We all had lunch at Mark’s afterwards. I was supposed to take a picture of us for another internet friend, Peter Guirguis of NotAshamedoftheGospel.com, but we were so engrossed in conversation that I completely forgot about it. (Sorry Peter.)

brothers in ChristLater that week I posted this photo on the social networks along with the words, “Behind this guy in traffic. We don’t see these in Oregon. #welcometoFlorida.” Well Adam saw it on Google+ and asked if I happened to be in the Orlando area. Next thing you know Kathy and I are worshipping with Adam and his family in Windermere on the following Sunday.

Mark, Mike, Adam, and every one of their family members all turned out to be genuine, warm, loving, and gracious people. For me meeting and worshipping with these brothers and their families was by far the best part of the whole trip.

God is good. And engaging God’s community is good too.

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another,and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25 NKJV)

[Handshake image via Steven Leggett – Creative Commons]

A Father’s Letter To His Sons About Porn

Christian porn addiction

Last post I wrote about an encounter I had at Starbucks with a man of sorrows. One of his sources of pain and suffering was his addiction to pornography. So I thought it appropriate to share the following blog post written by Robert Cunningham. It’s a letter to his sons about pornography. If you’re someone who struggles with this temptation, Cunningham’s letter is for you.

A Father’s Letter To His Sons About Porn

I have three young sons (6, 3, and 1). Occasionally I will write letters to give to them down the road. This is one about pornography. I’m sharing it because I know there are a lot of guys who desperately need to hear it, but don’t have a father who will say it.

My Precious Sons,

You are men.

You are noble and valiant creatures. Made to rule and subdue the earth with tender and calloused hands. Made to protect the weak and oppose injustice. Made to laugh, to wrestle, to firmly hug another. Made for glory. Made for honor.

But your manhood is twisted. You know it. You can feel it. Nobility now insecurity, courage now fear, the faint echoes of glory now loud cries of shame.

And experience is reaffirming what you fear is true. Women reject you. Friends forsake you. Father and mother fail you. You are not admired, you are not esteemed, you are not affirmed. No, this ruthless fallen world only mocks your manhood and magnifies your failures.

You are men. But alas, you are broken, battered, belittled men.

I know where you want to run. I know where you want hide. I hid there too in my youth.

Porn.

Oh how alluring it is to ruined men. A world where there are no demands, and there are no consequences. A world where you are adored and wanted, needed and respected. A world where perversion is standard and carnality is desired. A world that gives men what they were meant to have without asking men to be what they were meant to be. It restores what was lost in Eden but only by cheapening Eden, by creating a realm where perverted manhood is normalized and worshiped. Where for a moment, a brief, brief, moment, you can again be naked and unashamed.

Then you wake up. (Continue Reading)

Resources:

I’m A Christian Addicted To Porn by Shaun Groves

Robert Cunningham on Twitter: @tcpcrobert

Image via Miguel Tejada-Flores – Creative Commons

 

 

 

The One Thing We Can Know About Why God Allows Suffering (A blog post for the man of sorrows I met at Starbucks)

Why Did God

Return of the Prodigal by E. Murillo

He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. (Isaiah 53:3)

I Met A Man Of Sorrows At Starbucks This Morning

I had an amazing conversation with a thirty-something named Tom at Starbucks this morning. Tom is intelligent, friendly, and he has experienced serious suffering in his life. His soul mate, the woman he is certain he was meant to marry and spend his life with, she betrayed him, she left him, so they never married. Since that time her life has taken a downturn. After a series of relationships with different guys she’s divorced now. Also, a Christian leader Tom looked up to cut him out of his life without explanation. Later I learned Tom was also abused by his father and other family members. And then there’s his addiction: like millions of other men, Tom is addicted to porn. Yes, Tom has suffered, and he continues to suffer. About that, there can be no doubt.

And with many of his tribulations, when he prayed for intervention, no discernable intervention came.

Tom, this blog post is written with you in mind.

Why Did They Betray Me?

First I want to talk about the people who betrayed you. Before I was married I was betrayed by someone I loved too. I’ve never swallowed a burning balled up gas soaked rag, but if I ever did, I’m sure my gut would feel a lot like it did when I was betrayed–except the fire in the rag would extinguish much quicker. Tom you were betrayed by the one you were meant to be with forever, and that has to be painful, and confusing. And then there are the other betrayals in your life. Why would a loving God allow these things to happen? Continue reading

Lifelong Atheist Jennifer Fulwiler speaks candidly about her life of scientific materialism, and Christianity

I found this video so interesting, we’ll take a break from our series on suffering.

A Lifelong Atheist

Lifelong atheist Jennifer Fulwiler speaks candidly about growing up in an environment where scientific materialism and naturalism was her way of life. (For her nightly bedtime reading, her father read from Carl Sagan’s Cosmos.)

Jennifer says she was raised on a diet of science, and reason, and evidence based rational thought. She says, “You believe what you can prove. I believe that I have hands because I can see them. I believe in a black hole even though I’ve never seen one but science can tell us about the way matter moves around it that we can observe. And so this very rational worldview always made sense to me on a fundamental level.

A Collection Of Chemical Reactions

“Before I got to the point that I could really start researching faith with an open mind, something had to happen. And for me Continue reading

The Consequences Of Ignoring God: God’s Way, Your Way, And Your Crushed Spirit

depression Christian

Guilt, Fear, And A Crushed Spirit

Continuing our series on suffering, today we’ll look at how ignoring God can crush your spirit.

Proverbs 28:1 says,

The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, But the righteous are bold as a lion.

Why is that do you think? Why do the wicked flee when no one is pursuing?

The proverb is a reference to Leviticus chapter 26 where the Lord tells the Israelites what will happen when (when, not if) they don’t obey His commandments. He says: “…I will also bring weakness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies. And the sound of a driven leaf will chase them, and even when no one is pursuing they will flee as though from the sword, and they will fall. They will therefore stumble over each other as if running from the sword, although no one is pursuing…” (Leviticus 26:36-37)

What we see here is what happens when you live in a way God doesn’t want you to live. When you’re living in a way your Father in heaven doesn’t want you to, something happens inside you, something happens in your spirit. And your spirit can be crushed, because not only do you feel guilty about what you know you’re doing wrong, but you react to criticisms that point to wrong, even when it doesn’t apply to you. You generalize your guilt. That’s one of the things sin does to people.

When we do something we know is outside of God’s will, it chases us. Like Dickens’s Scrooge, or Shakespeare’s Macbeth the knowledge of our own sin can produce ghosts or shadows that haunt us, and we flee, even when no one is pursuing.

What Happened When Israel Ignored God

In Isaiah chapter 30 God tells the Israelites, “One thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one…” (Isaiah 30:17) And He gives the reason for it in verse 1 of the same chapter. In verse 1 He says, “Woe to the rebellious children who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit…”

You see, the nation of Israel was in a jam. The Assyrians were about to invade and these Assyrians, they had a terrifying reputation. So the leaders of Israel schemed, and plotted, and planned. And they came up with their own solution, they formed an alliance with Egypt. But they did it all apart from God. They didn’t include Him in the process. The whole problem with the hearts, minds, and souls of the Israelites, the reason they were wracked by guilt and fear, the reason one thousand fled at the rebuke of one, was because they didn’t seek God’s counsel. They ignored the One waiting to connect with them: their God.

What Happens When You Ignore God Continue reading

How A Lack Of Love Can Crush Your Spirit (And what that has to do with the San Francisco Giants’ run to the World Series)

love and depression

Jake Peavy with Bruce Bochy (Bochy is in the dugout) in San Diego

A Giant Difference

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down,

But a good word makes it glad. Proverbs 12:25

Continuing our series on suffering we see in this proverb another cause of a crushed spirit. What we see here is what relationships can do to us. A lack of relationship, a lack of a good word, a lack of love can crush us. But a good relationship, one with a good word, can send us soaring.

I read an article today about Jake Peavy, a pitcher for the World Series bound San Francisco Giants. You may have heard that he played for the Boston Red Sox this season up until July 26, when he was traded to the Giants. And here’s the weird thing: Peavy was Continue reading

One of the Strangest Questions Jesus Ever Asked

Why am I afraid

Why Are You Afraid?

“Why are you afraid?” he asked. This has to be one of the strangest questions Jesus ever asked his disciples. And this blog post explains why.

What Happened Leading Up To The Question

After a long day of teaching Jesus tells his disciples to jump into the boat and go over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. But as they make their way across, a storm comes up. Some of the disciples are experienced commercial fishermen, so they’re familiar with the Sea of Galilee and its associated weather. With that in mind it follows, this storm that comes up, it’s well beyond the norm for storms in that area. The winds are extreme to the point where waves are covering the boat. (Matthew 8:23-27) The storm is so intense that these experienced commercial fisherman are convinced they’re going to die. Meanwhile Jesus, likely exhausted from teaching and healing the pressing multitude, is in the back, asleep.

So they wake him up and they say, “…do you not care that we are perishing?”

And he asks them, “Why are you afraid?”

Strange question.

Why I Become Afraid

Why are you afraid? Under the circumstances it seems like a strange question to me. Under the current circumstances of the disciples, I have to confess, fear feels like a reasonable reaction to me. And maybe you’ve experienced that same feeling. I know I have. I’ve experienced that feeling like I was drowning in my problems. Overwhelmed by difficulties. The storm in my life was way beyond my own energy and ability to overcome. And it felt like God didn’t care. It felt like He was napping in the back of the boat.

Have you ever felt that way?

I have a friend who felt that way about his diseased body. I have another friend who felt that way about his unemployment. And another friend who felt that way about his lonely single lifestyle.

I think we have all felt that way. But I think Jesus would ask each of us the same question, “Why are you afraid?”

What He Said Next

Jesus didn’t stop after he asked, “Why are you afraid?” He asked a second question that provides insight into why he asked the first. His second question was this: Continue reading

Steve Mays’ Life Of Suffering (And how God healed him)

Steve Mays Life of Suffering

We’ve been exploring what the Bible has to say about suffering and right in the middle of this series of blog posts, God did something for Steve Mays, the pastor of Calvary Chapel South Bay, that I just have to share.

An Improbable Life Of Suffering

Steve’s life was often heavy with suffering. He battled drug addiction as a teenager which led to a series of strange and destructive events while he was still living at home with his father and mother. One time when Steve’s parents came home, as they opened their front door, water gushed out. Steve turned their house into a swimming pool by stuffing towels under the exterior doors and filling the place up with water. They found him in the living room smoking a pencil. He was completely oblivious. Instead of acknowledging the damage he’d done, he talked to them about the show he was watching on TV–but the TV was turned off.

Another time Steve’s parents arrived home to find him fixing a meal for a friend who lived inside the clock hanging on the kitchen wall.

Another time he terrorized his parents by angrily pacing around the house while swinging a machete.

The bewildering thing about Steve’s behavior was that he was a normal kid until junior high school. His parents didn’t know it but during that time in junior high he was Continue reading

An Atheist and Richard Dawkins Fan Investigates Further

Engineer Nick Berryman was an atheist who found that Richard Dawkins’s book The God Delusion resonated with him. And then he investigated further.

Resources:
HT to NotAshamedOfTheGospel.com where I first saw this video.